Interview

Rejuvenating Essential Resources to Create Livelihoods in Almora

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Rahul Chaubey

To welcome tourists in large numbers, we need essential resources like water in abundance, which is fast depleting with the passage of time due to deforestation, forest fires and plantation of trees like pine, which further depletes the ground water, writes Rahul Chaubey, District Tourism Development Officer, Almora.

Hill states in India in general lack in economic resources on which the edifice of development is raised. However, the nature has blessed hill states with abundant natural wealth and beauty which can be leveraged to boost the economies of hill states. Almora, which has been the cultural capital of Uttarakhand since time immemorial, has immense potential in the tourism sector. The District Tourism Development Office has been working on a war footing to attract tourists in large numbers to unlock the unrealised potential of the tourism sector in the district by effectively putting a stop on out-migration from the district and turn its demography into an economic dividend, thus paving the way for development in the district.

The mandate of District Tourism Development Office in Almora is to develop and promote tourism by providing adequate facilities to the tourists visiting the picturesque district. The office also generates employment opportunities for the local populace under various government schemes. For example, there are two schemes – Deen Dayal Upadhayay Home Stay Scheme and Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Yojana – under which jobs are being created in the tourism sector.

However, Almora needs to develop good infrastructure to support tourism in the district, which is dotted with amazing places like Lakhudiyar Cave, which is a human settlement site dating back to the prehistoric age. Apart from this, Kasar Devi, Jageshwar, Katarmal, Ranikhet and Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary also have significant footprints on the world tourism map. Many others sites like Katali, Tadagtal, Kathpudia, Rudradhari Fall and Pinath, are among the potential tourist hot spots that are yet to be fully explored and developed.

But to welcome tourists in large numbers, we need essential resources like water in abundance, which is fast depleting with the passage of time due to deforestation, forest fires and plantation of trees like pine, which further depletes the ground water. The scarcity of water in the district has been so grave that it makes it strenuous for various stakeholders to draw their livelihood in their area of residence, and rather find it easier to move out in search of some better source of livelihood, which is at the root of the problem of out-migration, turning many villages in the district into ‘ghost-villages’.

To address this issue, the Uttarakhand government has taken an initiative to rejuvenate the lifeline of Almora, the Kosi River. Under this project, plantation drives are being 2organised. Various surveys have been conducted to assess the impact of Kosi Rejuvenation Programme. It is encouraging to see that due to concerted efforts of various stakeholders, the tourist influx has increased substantially in Almora, thus directly benefitting the stakeholders. The district administration has also taken multiple initiatives to tap the natural wealth of Almora like promoting adventure sports, cultural activities, essential and cost effective infrastructure building, etc.

With every effort made, Almora is inching closer to resolving various resource-based issues and helping the local communities to gain from the increasing tourist flow, which is set to rise further in near future.

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